Everything You Need To Know About Anodized Aluminum

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Engineering, construction, and manufacturing are complex industries with specialized equipment needs. While some of the specialized tools and materials are readily apparent, the subtler elements often get overlooked by newcomers and onlookers. 

Anodized aluminum was created to withstand the harshest elements and work sites. Here’s everything you need to know about anodized aluminum and why it’s an industry-preferred material.

What Is Anodized Aluminum?

Anodized aluminum is aluminum that has been processed to create a special coating. During this electrochemical process, the aluminum is placed in an electrolyte solution with a positive electrical charge. 

The positive charge results in the creation of an anodized layer, which acts as a protective shell over the aluminum. As this isn’t a layer of varnish or coating and is instead created from the aluminum itself, there’s no risk of degradation or chipping. 

While aluminum doesn’t rust, it does oxidize over time. The anodization process helps offset the negative impacts of oxidation. 

Pigments are often added during this process for colored aluminum. When the pigment is added, it seeps into the pores of the metal and then gets sealed over during anodization. 

The anodization process is often applied to other materials as well, such as titanium and some plastics. In short, it’s an effective way to create long-lasting metal tags, parts, and prototypes.

Benefits of Using Anodized Aluminum

Anodization is a complex electrochemical process. Fortunately, you don’t need to understand the entirety of the process to reap the benefits. Here are some of the common benefits of using anodized aluminum.

Durability

The overarching benefit to anodization is the durability the process adds to raw materials. The importance of this consideration for use on construction sites, areas with harsh chemicals, and complex manufacturing processes cannot be understated. Anodization is an industrial process that’s designed for industrial use. In many cases, the breakdown of materials can have costly and devastating effects.

Color Fast

When many people think of anodized aluminum, color is the first thing that comes to mind. Anodization and the addition of pigment to the process creates a color-fast final product, but that’s not everything. While this process does have aesthetic benefits, it also plays a role in safety.

Finally, if you’re using anodized aluminum for metal tags on a worksite, you want them to stand out. Anodized pigments do just that, and won’t fade or chip away over time.

Cost Implications

For such a complex process, anodized aluminum is relatively economical. Not only will the aluminum last longer with anodization, but the process itself is cost-effective. Additionally, this type of aluminum’s lower maintenance needs makes the investment worthwhile in the long run.

Non-Toxic

Now, more than ever, there’s concern about what toxins companies are introducing to their workers and the world at large. The anodization process is free of harsh chemicals and VOCs, making it safe for both workers in direct contact with it, as well as the environment.

For industries seeking green initiatives and environmental certifications, using anodization as an alternative to chemical-bound processes is a big step in the right direction.

Low Maintenance

As mentioned, anodized aluminum is low maintenance. It doesn’t require additional processing or refinishing over time. You can easily keep anodized aluminum clean with a simple cleaning solution or mild abrasive, as needed. 

As anodized aluminum is so durable, it rarely gets scratched or scuffed. This feature contributes to cost savings over time.

Lightweight

Aluminum is a lightweight metal, which creates versatility in application. This feature also contributes to cost savings when considering shipping and handling.

Final Thoughts

The durability, color applications, and cost make anodized aluminum an invaluable material in the manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture, oil and gas, and engineering sectors. Consider investing in anodized aluminum when you need a lightweight, yet durable metal tag or part for your next project.

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